When a family from Moscow rents a cottage on young, blind Ukrainian doctor Zinaida Lintvaryova's rural family estate in the summer of 1888, she develops a deep bond with one of their sons, a doctor and writer of modest but growing fame called Anton Pavlovich Chekhov. Intelligent, curious, and increasingly introspective as her condition worsens, Zinaida keeps a diary chronicling this extraordinary friendship that comes to define the last years of her life.
In the winter of 2014, Katya Kendall’s London publishing house is floundering-as is her marriage. Katya is convinced that salvation lies in publishing Zinaida’s diary, and she approaches translator Ana Harding about the job. As Ana reads the diary, she is captivated by the voice of the dying young doctor. And hidden within Zinaida’s words, Ana discovers tantalizing clues suggesting that Chekhov—who was known to have composed only plays and short stories—actually wrote a novel during his summers with Zinaida that was subsequently lost. Ana is determined to find Chekhov’s “lost” manuscript, but in her search she discovers it is but one of several mysteries involving Zinaida’s diary.
Inspired by fragments of historical truth, “The Summer Guest” is a transportive, masterfully written novel about an unusual, fascinating friendship that transcends the limits of its time and place. It’s also a contemporary story about two compelling, women, both of whom find solace in Zinaida and Chekhov as they contemplate all that’s missing in their own lives. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
Please note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review courtesy of TLC Book Tours.
This book was utterly mesmerizing! I was not familiar with Chekhov before reading the book and it has me quite intrigued to pull some of those in the relatively near future. I picked it up because I absolutely adored “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” and this was written by the translator. Although it’s hard to tell during the read, what is fiction / truth is shown at the end of the book. The other thing that is interesting is the author’s use of modern events (such as the recent events in Ukraine), but not in a distracting way.
In the book we get to know three different point of views, but it doesn’t become too much for the story to handle. Zinaida really brings reality to life and had me thinking and rethinking as I read her diary. The relationship between her and Chekhov is extremely sweet to me (not romantic per say) and seeing the intimacy between them made me feel like they really were real people I was witnessing. I would definitely recommend this one to anyone who is even vaguely intrigued by the summary.
Rating: 5 stars!
Who should read it? Anyone with a historical literature interest, philosophical interest or fans of Chekhov.